Restaurant and catering start-up checklist 

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You've decided to follow your dreams and open a restaurant or catering business, which is no ordinary task. What do you need to know? What preparations need to be made?

The Restaurant and catering start-up checklist is designed to help you create and implement your recipe for success. For general information on business start-up, consult our Business start-up checklist.

Bon appétit!

  • Business start-up checklist

    When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.

Another option is buying an existing business — find out more.

  • Buying a business

    Find out what you need to know before buying a business: where to look, how to evaluate potential acquisitions, and what a fair price would be.

  • Franchising

    Learn more about buying a franchise as an option for starting a business.

Knowing the restaurant and catering industry

As a restaurateur or caterer, you need to know your industry, customers and suppliers inside-out. Your marketing strategy will be as crucial to your success as the items on your menu. Use these resources to help develop your knowledge base and become an expert.

Designing and setting up your restaurant or catering business

Whether you build your business from the ground up or you plan to buy an existing one, you need to have a very organized, functional set-up. From the appetizers you serve, to the supplies you require, you will need to have every detail in place. Significant time and attention to detail will be needed for setting up your food service business, transporting your food, and kitchen and menu requirements.

Complying with restaurant and catering rules and regulations

You will find that the food service industry has a number of specific regulations. From storing and preparing food to serving alcoholic beverages, you need to have your house in order before you open your doors. Explore these regulations and guidelines early on in the planning process.

  • Permits and licences

    Find the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start or manage your business.

  • Human resources regulations

    It is important to understand your obligations and responsibilities as an employer with regards to hiring, labour standards, wages, employment equity, leave, and more.

  • Taxes, GST/HST

    Learn about the forms of taxation that may affect your business and how to manage them.

  • Reporting gratuities: Employment income not reported on a T4 slip

    Find out how to report tips and gratuities for income tax purposes.

  • Food safety

    Access information on food safety, including product recalls, safety training, allergies and how-to guides on handling specific safety issues.

  • Environmental Public Health
    Applies only to: Alberta

    If your business is a food establishment, swimming pool, social care facility, and/or personal service facility, you need to learn your obligations.

  • Tips or gratuities (Newfoundland and Labrador)
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Learn about how tips and gratuities are the property of your employees.

Hiring and training your employees

Red Seal Trade certification is available for certain occupations in the food service industry. You may want to consider these qualifications when you are staffing your restaurant.

Additional Resources

Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.

  • Contact the Canada Business Network

    The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.

  • Business support organizations

    Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.

  • Starting a business

    Want to be your own boss? Find out how to start a business.

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